Spring is here and we’re staring down both barrels of our summer getaways. I’ve never been asked to give advice on vacation pictures and there’s probably a reason for that. With that in mind I’m going to post some of my thoughts on this and maybe a little advice.
First off, God bless our dads and grandfathers, camera bugs of half a century ago who tirelessly carried their big clunky cameras on vacations, forcing the family to line up in front of the Grand Canyon, St. Louis Arch, Golden Gate Bridge, light house for Kodak moment after Kodak moment. Today when we look back through those albums of prints (ALBUMS OF PRINTS) we don’t look at how the Grand Canyon has changed, we look at how we’ve changed. These images not only document the history of our family, but they can spur these precious memories. Yes I remember that I went to the Grand Canyon when I was a kid, but actually looking at a photograph enhances and revitalizes the memory to a point that simply not be reached otherwise.
So thank your camera-bug dad for lugging his monstrous camera around. The pictures are worth it. And while he may have looked a bit dorky in his leather sandals and dark socks, using a Rolleiflex TLR and wearing Ray-Ban Wayfarers more than makes up for it.
Now some pointers and some of this is going to seem dumb almost to the point of being insulting, but if I hadn’t been there myself….
#1. Have your camera. Let’s face it, in this day and age it’s more difficult NOT to have a camera than to forget one, so there’s just no excuse. Phones have cameras, yes, but to take it up a notch a small point and shoot will go a long way. This has to do with image quality. Pictures from your cell phone will look best…on the cellphone. The images in this post were taken with a dated point and shoot Canon that fit in my pocket.
#2. Read the instruction book. I’m sorry! I’m not trying to insult you. Even the simplest cameras do a lot, but the worst is that they all have a bunch of tiny little buttons and it’s easy to accidentally change the settings and not know what you’ve done. Maybe you did something and it doesn’t take pictures when you push the button or (maybe worse) it beeps when you push the button. As I write this I’m sitting next to a camera instruction book that’s 502 pages long. All in English. Yours won’t be that long.
#4. Photograph the people you care about. Unless you’re getting something that you really think is going to be a scenic that you’ll put on your wall, your life is about your family.
#5. Watch out for garbage in the background and foreground. It takes patience, but look at what else is in your picture besides your subject. Pedestrians? Other tourists? Dumpsters? Sometimes you’ll need to wait for people to get out of the way. Sometimes you’ll need to move yourself.
#6. Shoot out of a window only if there’s no other way.
#7. If you have to shoot out of a window, watch out for reflections.
#8. And maybe most important, when you pull off to a scenic overlook, get your picture, and then actually take your camera down from your face and breathe it in. Let your mind see it in real life. Feel it.
Chicago Pizza. Leona's on North Sheridan Road.